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Prof. Madhu Sudan Kanungo (1 April 1927 – 26 July 2011) was an Indian gerontologist, neuroscientist, and teacher of molecular biology and biochemistry. He is known for his theories on how gene expression changes with age and the role of this phenomenon in aging. He was also the founder of the Association of Gerontology of India (AGI). In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, Padma Shri, in 2005.[1]


He completed his Bachelors in Science from Utkal University in 1949. After that he moved to Lucknow University from where he completed his MSc in Zoology in 1951. He later moved to the University of Illinois, USA, for advanced studies. He completed his PhD on Physiology in 1959.[2]

He started his early life as a Lecturer in Zoology, Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He then joined Utkal University in February 1961 as a Reader in Zoology and continued teaching for a year. He joined the Department of Zoology at Banaras Hindu University and served as a reader (1962–69) and as a professor (1970–87). He was Head, Department of Zoology (1974–76 and 1980–82), Coordinator of the Center of Advanced Study, and Dean, Faculty of Science (1986) at Banaras Hindu University. He served as Emeritus Professor of Banaras Hindu University from 1993 to 2011. He was an active and popular teacher of physiology and biochemistry at Banaras Hindu University for more than 40 years.

For research, he took up the problem of aging to find out the biochemical and molecular changes that occur in the brain and other organs of the rat as a function of age. Kanungo was the founder director of the Institute of Life Sciences of Government of Odisha at Bhubaneswar. He worked with the then chief minister of Odisha, Biju Patnaik, for establishing the institute during the late 1980s which is now a DBT Institute.

Until his death Prof. M. S. Kanungo continued working on topics such as expression of genes and proteins involved in neurotransmission and recycling of neurotransmitters in the brain as a function of age; studying genes and proteins to understand the molecular mechanism involved in the process of learning and memory during aging; expression of genes involved in formation of blood brain barrier (BBB) as a function of age and under different types of stress.

Promotion of gerontology

Kanungo was the founder president (1981–88) and patron (1989–2011) of the Association of Gerontology of India (AGI), which had three components: biological, socio-psychological and medical for research and planning on the ageing and the elderly. He was also an active member of the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) of Govt. of India, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment from 1999–2011, which proposed the National Initiative for Care of Elderly (NICE) policy.

His publications and lectures on aging have brought into focus the importance of the problem of Gerontology, and the field has been accepted as a thrust area for research and teaching since the 1970s by several scientific agencies. He has also received grants from International agencies like the Nuffield Foundation, London, UK and PL-480, US.

Kanungo has popularised the subject of Gerontology by writing popular articles on Aging in Science Today, Science Reporter, etc. and by giving lectures at various institutes and universities. The subject is being taught as a course in various universities, both in science and humanities.[3] He had published 139 papers in the area of 'Biology of Aging' and authored two books.

Books written


  • Padma Shri (2005)
  • SS Bhatnagar Prize (Biology) (1971)[4]
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship (1987)
  • Golden Jubilee Commemoration medal, INSA (1992)[5]
  • Sir Sriram memorial Oration award, National Academy of Medical Sciences, (1998)
  • Fellowship of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)(1989)
  • Third Age Award-14th International Congress of Gerontology, Mexico (1989)
  • Fellow of Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi (1975)
  • Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1975)
  • National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad (1989)
  • National Academy of Medical Sciences, India (1996)
  • Indian Academy of Neuroscience (2008)
  • National Fellow (1976–77)
  • National Lecturer (1982) of UGC
  • Emeritus Scientist of C. S. I. R. (1989–94)
  • Senior Scientist INSA (1995–99)
  • Chancellor of Nagaland University (2009–2011)


  1. "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2009)". Ministry of Home Affairs. 
  2. KANUNGO MS, PROSSER CL. (December 1959). "Physiological and biochemical adaptation of goldfish to cold and warm temperatures. I. Standard and active oxygen consumptions of cold- and warm-acclimated goldfish at various temperatures.". J Cell Comp Physiol. 54: 265–74.
  3. Kanungo, M.S. (August 2005). "Biomedical Aspects of Aging" (PDF). Journal of Oriya Samaja 3 (2): 54.
  5. Kanungo, M S. "Indian National Science Academy Fellows". INSA. Retrieved 1 August 2011.